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Oliver Stone's W Completes Casting, Starts Filming

by
May 22, 2008
Source: Variety

Richard Dreyfuss

In what will surely be one of the more talked about films of 2008, Oliver Stone's W. has begun shooting in Shreveport, Louisiana and, as of today, has a complete cast. We've learned this week that the wonderfully talented Richard Dreyfuss (seen above) is in final negotiations to fill the last major role on the film - that of Vice President Dick Cheney. Following up on our previous rundown of the cast as well, Toby Jones will officially play Karl Rove instead of the rumored Paul Giamatti, while Scott Glenn fills in as Donald Rumsfeld instead of the rumored Tommy Lee Jones. Now that the cast is complete and filming is underway, will it live up to all of the hype?

Despite the gravitas of the subject matter and cast, the production seems a tad light in the pants. As EW reported in their cover story of the production, part of Stone's motivation for the project stems from the idea that it could be made "fast and relatively cheap." In fact, the film's budget is estimated at a measily $30 million, and is slated for completion by October of this year - just five short months, and just in time for the elections. Is it just me, or does this feel like an opportunistic drive-by? And does the fact that Stone got a waiver from the Screen Actors Guild to continue his production in the face of possible strikes mean anything? I've heard these passes are usually granted to indie films and not exactly in high numbers.

Confirming some of my suspicions, Stone, in fact, this past Sunday told the Telegraph that this film will not be made in the same heavy, studied vein as his 1995 Nixon. "It's not as psychologically heavy. Nixon was more ambitious in scope and time. This is more of a soufflé." Really!? A soufflé!? Stone is basically saying that W. is a light, fluffy, puffed-up affair that is about as stable as a house of cards. I think some folks have already thought this about the film, but it is interesting that Stone let such a categorization slip.

So is W. really going to make any waves? Notice I haven't even mentioned the widely reported issues with the script. Because of Bush's very controversial history, I think most naturally assume a film on the 43rd President would generate equal amounts of contention. Yet it seems the film may actually just turn out to be the dessert that punctuates Bush's presidency - one that, however tasty, is soft, weak and ultimately falls flat. Am I right about this one?

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  • Movie Lover
    "Most talked about"? You have to be kidding, right? Oliver Stone used to make good movies, then he jumped off the deep end. This will be a money loser, just like most of the movies in the last year about Iraq/the Middle East. People just don't want to hear it. It's obvious to everyone there will be no truth behind this film...just Oliver's one-sided rant against Bush.
  • well...most talked about DEFINITELY doesn't imply positive chatter. the subject matter will largely fuel mention and discussion of the film, which I suppose is Oliver's main goal
  • This movie is a bad idea to start off with and I feel that this will be a shock-value mess.
  • pizza_the_hut
    to honor this cocksucker and his miserable family with a movie of any kind is offensive to every citizen in this country...George W. "C- average" Bush should be in prison...period...jmho...
  • jman571
    I think there's a serious problem now in Hollywood with making films about very recent subject matter or current events. Case in point is the rash of 9/11 movies that have already come out, Flight 93, the fireman one with Nicolas Cage, and Reign over Me. I'm sure there are others, but I think it's very hard to get an audience interested in paying to see things they get drilled into them 24/7 on the daily headlines. Same deal with all the current flops that are critical of the war on terror (Lions for Lambs, etc.) Even "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden" did crap. Perhaps there's a few reasons: 1)People go to see movies, and really any art form (art gallerys, videogames, music) to get immersed in the fantasy of whatever it is they're viewing. People don't want to see things that are currently on the evening news. 2) Perhaps, and these thoughts are held by myself on occasion, that most people can't stand the smary "aritistry" that's going on right now. With basically a set of artists in the movie industry taking their personal opinion on a controversial matter (i.e. Prez Bush or the War on Terror) and turning it into a film. It's not that we don't respect their opinion, as we should, but that their viewpoint is a dime a dozen and THERE IS NOTHING "creative" or "unique" about making a film right now dealing with current issues. 3) Without any hindsight on these current events, it's very hard to make a movie that will try and "define" a person, issue, era and this leads to that moviemaker being even more smarmy. They think they know what's going on but they have no idea, because only through the test of history can we truly know what the repercusions of current events are. Anyways, sorry for the rant but I can't believe the moviemakers aren't getting the picture. No pun intended. 😉
  • The Brain
    This is no boating accident!
  • tommyturner
    No pizza_the_hut, you are a classless person, period.
  • Vic
    Oliver Stone is a piece of shit!
  • Jeremy
    Well, there were some "current event" hits, and one that recently came out is SiCKO. though, i agree that there was no Bush movie. undeserving, honestly.
  • Movie Lover
    jman, I completely agree with you. People will be more interested in watching films about Iraq or the Bush Administration when there is time and distance....and some true analysis of these events in history. Right now it is so black and white...either you like Bush or agree with the War in Iraq or you are vehemently against both. Neither is quite the true picture. But we won't be able to make an honest analysis of either until many years from now. That is when the most interesting films will be made. Just like the rash of Vietnam War era films that came out in the 80s...In fact, Oliver Stone's wonderful "Platoon" was truly a masterpiece. But it was wonderful not for its depiction of the true Vietnam (I have no idea how real his take on the war was), but for his insights into human nature. The Vietnam War was merely the setting, the catalyst for the events in the film. Now he is just a sycophant in the Hollywood liberal smear campaign. Which is unfortunate.
  • Ryan
    You're all disgusting people. And I hate you all. Oliver Stone is a genius and a master at life. Whereas you all suck at life. Look at the ignorance you all display... One says "that one with nic cage as a firefighter", well that actually happens to be a Stone film. And to say you "have no idea how real" his take on Vietnam was in Platoon is obscenely dumb. He is a vietnam veteran with a purple heart for courage under fire, you're all pathetic internet critics. I don't see anyone lining up to entrust you with millions of dollars! over his career he's made close to a billion dollars worth of art. He is the king, he's a go getter, and he kicks ass as far as I am concerned. What Stone means when he calls this movie smaller than nixon, is that the story isn't over yet, history had already judged nixon and that film was made from that vantage point, with the man's funeral over the end credits... His bush film with his writer from wall street, one of the most well crafted stories of the 80s, has been in the works for over a year. The script is heavily researched, and vetted for accuracy the best he can. Stone is not a right winger, no, but he is no blind follower of the dems either. It is on the record that he donated to independents at all levels of election campaigns in the past. The man is a giant. He has been let down by the frailty of the movie 'business' in that millions of hapless sheep without the balls to rise to the top like stone has, don't 'get' alexander, and colin farrell fucked it up, it was bad casting. Seriously, this man stone is our greatest filmmaker. The man has had balls, and intellect, since he was born, he dropped out of ivy league school to VOLUNTEER for vietnam, and learned the hard way the corruption of high politics when he saw he'd put his life on the line for blind patriotism. He knows about war, about politics, and his life experience informs very much all his films. He is a very great man. I will not have you ignorant human wastebaskets bag stone on the internet. Again, I don't think you know how 'together' as a man you have to be to get financiers to trust you with a billion dollars of production money over a career. He has numerous masterpieces and Nixon was just utterly fantastic. W will be much anticipated. To make fun of its budget, is just obscene. There is no explosions and CGI in white house set piece you fools. I've seen the EW pic of Brolin in makeup, he looks like bush in it and it will be great to see what stone's unique vision brings to the events of not only 2001 onwards, but coloring in Bush's early life and Texas governorship. You don't just throw a movie like this together, I've read the script was researched and mainly written before the writers strike, and up to over a year ago. Stone had wall street done within a year of platoon, and cleaned up oscars with both movies. THe man can work fast when he wants to. He lives for his films, he sleeps like four hours and immerses himself in the editing room until a short time before release. The guy is a very impressive man. Again, I don't see anyone lining up to trust you to run a hot dog stand, let alone hand you the lifetime earnings of dozens of men to create your artistic vision and craft! You all suck and I hope you all get pancreatic cancer.
  • jman571
    Wow, okay.... great move there wishing cancer upon another human being who you've never even met before....*sigh* In regards to me not following up on the name of that film, I'm sorry if it came off as ignorant, but I didn't think it would detract from my central points that I outlined in the post. Yes, we're not disagreeing that Stone has had success in his career and that he is an important person. I did not know the thing about him being a Vietnam war hero, and I commend him for his patriotism and unflinching selflessness back then. BUT, just because an individual has led a good life and done many things, everything they do from that point on, up into the present and future, cannot simply be seen through rose-colored glasses. I think that Stone is off-base in making a movie about the George W. Bush presidency, when said president hasn't even left office yet. I think this action speaks of ignorance. Stone himself made Platoon, a great movie IMO, but he had the knowledge and humility to not produce a film concerning the war until many years after. I'm sure this film is bound to be controversial and perhaps even an intelligent analysis on Bush's legacy. But it will not be successful commercially, and I don't think it can ever be as insightful as a movie made many years hence, a movie where hindsight is 20/20. Look, my post was to provide a REASON why these kinds of films are not performing well at the Box-office, not to merely criticize any particular director or individual movie. Clearly my reasons are substantiated because of the poor track record of these kind of films. If the majority disagreed with ALL of my points, then these movies should've performed better (made more $$$). Stone may be a great director, but his topic of choice is not a good one, and in my opinion even the best director would have trouble making money with this kind of film.
  • Ryan
    Sigh. Yawn. Stone's 'W' ain't a movie about the george w bush presidency. Its about his whole life. Half the minutes the film runs for won't be set in this decade. And two, you can't compare it to films like Lions for Lambs, and Rendition, and the like, this is more like a biographical film starting in the 60s covering the 80s 90s and then an hour of whitehouse set piece stuff, like an episode of west wing, This is not some oliver stone version of the tv movie 'path to 9/11' with Harvey Keitel, nor is it some dramatized Michael Moore film. People going to this movie aren't going to railroaded into staring at exactly what has been on the news for eight years, it is going to be like 'where did this man come from', 'where was he coming from', its a study in this man, Bush's whole life! his religiosity, his father, everything, it is a VERY interesting story, we will see the emotional sort of journey or an interpretation of it, of a c student becoming the most hated and powerful man in the world. This is not meant to be 'entertaining' for some 'winding down on the weekend' crowd. This is stone, making art that will outlast stone, who will probably be dead in 20 years, and this man bush, is so significant, for the whole world, his tenure has changed the whole world, and with these figures, like nixon, napoleon, whoever, who in the short span of time changed the world, for better or worse, we make art about them. This is a necessary part of stone's filmography, he has faith in the project, and so do a bunch of huge talent actors, so I am really looking forward to it. I never said it would be good, I said it will be good to see stone's vision of it. It may suck. There is no way this is irrelevant presidency. This will be remembered very strongly, this presidency, your whole life until you die there will be remnants of this presidency in everyday life. And yeah, it is good to wait for history to judge shit, but that is not the main focus. Stone wondered 'how did this guy, this underachiever, manage to sell himself to the most advanced civilization on earth, state election after state election, and national election after national election, his presidency touches upon many things about americans themselves, values millions of americans have, its just gonna be fascinating, two hours isn't enough, I wish stone would make a mini series with a dvd box set going for 12 hours. Iraq war movie, war on terror movie this is not, this a biopic. Why should stone care if he makes big money with this film. He's always broken even. Even on alexander. International audiences are quite prepared to watch this film. I myself am not american nor do I live in america and I am very interested in seeing what stone has for us. International audiences always buy up stone's dvds, I couldn't care less if you americans don't want intellectually stimulating films, political films from stone that hold up a mirror to your society. The whole world has been influenced by bush... just look the oil prices worldwide to see that, and the security in airports, and the decline in civil liberties in all democracies that followed the lead of bush and his nsa wiretapping and the list goes on. I am fully aware that the majority of people that go to the movies in america and buy the tickets are heaving plaque filled artery obese sheep, with a crucifix around their necks, and they are the reason this man won every election he ever stood in and continued to win even after he broke Iraq, almost two full years of breaking a country that did nothing to you, and you still vote him in against kerry. Stone isn't a domestic film maker, he makes films for the whole world. They might be about america, but the world is very interested as it affects them if the richest, most powerful, most advanced technology, most polluting, most fat, most spacefaring, most powerful military nation on earth is in the hands of one man, for almost a decade, and that man happens to be a fundamentalist christian C student who sleeps fine after killing tens of thousands of innocents. This is a fascinating story, trying to use the best art form in the world, the most high tech art form in the world, to give the world a bit of therapy and just explain to us how this man Bush ended up where we ended up. This is a healing exercise, what better time than at the end of his term, than to have a master artist like stone, take us on the Bush journey, its called facing up to what has happened, and just saying 'oh its yesterday's news'. You americans forgot the lessons of the vietnam war and that's why blood flows in the streets of iraq today, if you don't understand your history you are doomed to repeat it. Yawn. Sigh. Heart surgery for you, fat american. You don't wanna take an interest and go see stone's film 'w' in october, go see Indiana Jones 17 or whatever the fuck tripe you like to 'wind down' with after a hard day poured into your office chair like a soft serve ice cream tub of lardass shit. You suck. Stone is the king. I hope this movie doesn't suck. But there is no reason to fucking ditch it before it is even released, give it a chance.
  • jman571
    Ahhh jeez, okay last word from me, first off: Yes, though the movie does concern his entire life, his presidency is the "defining" moment of his life, I think it should be made (or at least start to be made) after the conclusion of his final term as President. Last time I checked there's still about 8 months left in his term. That's a LONG time in my opinion. I think we should wait and see what he does. Oh and before I go... I'm not American 😉
  • gbj
    Does anybody, even Stone, pretend anymore that this is going to be some kind of balanced, impartial look at Bush? Of course not. If you hate Bush, you already love this movie and vice versa. But I still maintain that very few people are going to want to see this. Even, and maybe particularly, the CASUAL Bush-haters... people who are just sick of hearing about him and can't wait for his term to be over. And it is like the Iraq war films. The example I use is the typical couple, whether they're married or dating... "Honey, let's go see that new movie about the Iraq War." Yeah, right. Well, same thing here... "Sweetie, let's go see that new movie about Bush." Sure, baby, right after I stick these bamboo shoots under my fingernails!
  • Ryan
    You're a terrible person. A nasty, empty void of a soul.
  • gbj
    Thanks! I try.
  • Ok, we give in. It's going to be great. A Biopic while he's still in office. A little humiliating, to be sure to reveal the alcholism, the daddy issues etc. But it's an important story to be told. We, on the otherhand, have taken to telling the future with our series -- when they're all finally on trial for war crimes. http://www.funwithwarcrimes.com
  • gbj
    I swear, I don't know what planet some of you people live on, but I'm glad I'm not there with you. War crimes, what a crock! Alcoholism and daddy issues? Well, whoop-de-doo. I don't suppose you've read any history prior to, say, 1998. You'd be amazed at what some presidents have done, said, and gone through. You might want to start with Abraham Lincoln and some of his comments about slavery and blacks. Oh hell, why not go back to the beginning with Washington and get yourself a complete education.
  • Ryan
    You're a petty, little, hapless, hubristic, arrogant, real piece of work. In a perfect world, you'd be blood and bone sprinkled on my plants aiding them in winning flower show prizes. But alas, you're a living, breathing so called human being, typing on a keyboard, reading this. Woe is me.
  • gbj
    Yeah, woe is you. Keep that thesaurus close by, you sound like you'll need it.
  • Ryan
    No one disses Stone without having their school shot up ok? Damn it.

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